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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fun with the Home Office

My many enquiries to the Home Office asking if the Home Secretary will exercise his right to legislate in Scotland under section 28 (7) of the Scotland Act 1998 to force Scottish police forces to merge in the interests of national security have solicited only an automated response informing me that my enquiry has been forwarded to the Scottish Executive. Understandably annoyed at the blatant fob-offs I decided to ring the Home Office and spoke to Sally Waples on the Police Restructuring Team (020 7035 4747).

Ms Waples completely failed to understand that my query had no relevence to the Scottish Executive as I was asking about the Home Secretary. She also argued with me that the Home Secretary was unable to legislate on devolved matters until I quoted the Scotland Act at her when she conceded that she wasn't familiar with devolution. Did that make a difference though? No. She remained resolute in her opinion that I shouldn't be bothering the Home Office and should speak to the Scottish Executive.

I told her I didn't need to speak to the Scottish Executive because I already know they plan to make Scottish forces smaller because that's what prompted me to email the Home Office. I asked what I should do if I write to the Scottish Executive and they come back and tell me what I already know which is that they will refuse to merge their police forces. She told me I should keep writing to them. And what then? Nothing, the Home Office isn't interested.

So what to do? The Home Secretary isn't planning to tell Scottish police forces to merge despite telling us that anything less than 4,000 officers in a police force puts us at risk of terrorism. Obviously this is unacceptable - either there is a risk of terrorism and the Home Secretary is guilty of dereliction of duty or the risk of terrorism is a lie and the merger of police forces is politically motivated.

I spoke to James Slack at the Daily Mail about this yesterday and he seemed interested so maybe they'll get somewhere with this.